The 12th edition of Aero India in Bengaluru's Yelahanka Air Force Station is all set to kick off between February 20 and 24 and the event is expected to be bigger and better than the ones held before.
Preparations for the air show have reached their final stages and this year, the start-ups under the Make In India initiative in Defence will be showcased during the show. Aero India 2019 will also have a drone competition and a Women's Day special where Sunita Williams, a record holder for the maximum number of spacewalks by a woman, is expected to participate in the seminar on February 24.
This time around, Aero India will also witness Drone Olympics. The participants will kick-start the competition at the Government Flying Training School in Jakkur and the finalists will participate at the Aero India event on February 21.
"There will also be a day where the theme will be start-ups. The Ministry of Defense is still planning it out. There will be companies who will showcase their ideas during this show," an official said.
In addition, the Union government has instructed Sainik schools and other schools in Karnataka to bring students for the air show. "We are expecting 10,000 students to participate in the various events and seminars. The aim is to recruit more people into the armed forces," the official added.
Over 5 lakh people are expected to attend the show and officers at AFS Yelahanka say all issues they faced during the air show in 2017 are being dealt with. For starters, the general public, who will be arriving to view the show, will have to go to the ariel display viewing area via gate number 8, 9, 10 and 11 only. This would mean that they will have to make their way through Yelahanka Town and will not be allowed to use the the Yelahanka Main Road. Only exhibitors, service providers and the media will be allowed to use this road.
Traffic diversions for those going towards the airport are also expected. The airport road will be closed and commuters will have to make their way to BIAL via Hennur. In addition, a parking space is being arranged to overcome the issues faced during the 2017 show. This time, the task has been contracted to a private company, which will be handling the issue. Shuttle services will be provided between the parking lot and the ariel display viewing area in order to avoid pedestrian traffic along the Yelanhanka Main Road.
"We have identified two highways for beautification and the state government is also working on widening the road as soon as possible. The garbage generated will be cleared out once every half hour. This time we will install 1,000 toilets for people to use. There will be two food courts instead of one and also an Indira Canteen, which will offer food at affordable rates," said Air Commodore in-charge of the Yelahanka Air Force Station, Ravuri Sheetal.
This time around, HAL will be the event organiser as opposed to the Defence Exhibition Organisation. "There are 21 sub-committees which the HAL has set up specifically to coordinate various operations for Aero India 2019. As of now, 31 flying display teams have registered and 21 static display teams have registered and 365 companies both Indian and foreign have confirmed their participation. There will be a large number of business-to-business, government-to-business and government-to-government meetings during the show," said Wing Commander Amit Kumar, in-charge of Aero India.
The air show will also have two additional display stalls – G and F. In 2017, the show had A, B, C, D and AB stalls for static display. "On an average, 80-90 aircraft can be displayed in each stall, again, depending upon the size of the aircraft," he added.
There will be 19 flying displays by the Indian Air Force and 17 by HAL and seven displays by foreign agencies including two flying displays of Rafale jets.